NACOSA’s My Journey AGYW Influencer Project
- Organisation: National AIDS Convention of South Africa (NACOSA)
- Country: South Africa
- Region: Eastern and Southern Africa
- Stage of innovation: Stage 6: In the market and Ready to scale
- Start date: January 2021
- End date: June 2021
- Type of innovation: Service innovation: new or improved service
- Budget: 43,769 USD (638,159 ZAR)
- Funder: Global Fund
Summary of intervention
Adolescence is a time of change and experimentation and young people often seek information about issues such as sex, contraception or substance abuse from their peers, rather than their parents, guardians or older siblings. They often trust what their peers tell them, or what they access on the internet, and don’t question the reliability or accuracy. The potential to source misinformation escalated during COVID-19, when young people were at home most of the time, unable to physically access usual services, and spending more time on social media.
Realising this, NACOSA’s My Journey Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) Influencer project identified young women to be social media ‘Influencers’. The group was diverse to reflect the range of beneficiaries in terms of age, HIV status, sexual orientation and gender identity, and those in and out of school. The Influencers were provided with phones and data and trained in the basics of HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH), digital advocacy, social media, digital marketing and content creation. They were also mentored and provided with key health messaging. Weekly Facebook LIVE sessions further supported them and created a sense of community. The Influencers engaged with their peers on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to drive demand for HIV and other SRH services, provide accurate information and to empower other young women.
Regular posts from Influencers included information on HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis, relationships, gender-based violence, sexuality, mental health and sexually transmitted infections. Influencers reached 41,645 Facebook and 4016 Instagram accounts and built a community of adolescent girls and boys learning from each other’s experiences and engaging in positive health messaging.
When the first cohort completed, 15 out of 30 influencers were absorbed by their host organisations and appointed in vacant positions, some enrolled in technical and vocational education, training schools and higher education institutions, others who had dropped out returned back to school.
There were challenges in estimating how much data each influencer, would need each month.
The next steps are to scale up the influencer programme and to include adolescent boys and young men, gender non-conforming young people, people living with a disability and those living with HIV. The number of influencers will be increased from 30 to 60, expanding to sub-districts. The programme will also provide young people who are not enrolled in academic institutions and those not working with social media and digital marketing with work-readiness training and nfluencers will be engaged in demand-creation activities.
To take the programme to scale, NACOSA is exploring other social media platforms such as Tiktok. In terms of sustainability, equipping young people with lifelong skills is improving their employability and career prospects.
For more information, visit the NACOSA website.